Last week, the folks over at Racialicious re-posted a piece by Macon D., the creator of the blog, Stuff White People Do. The article, “Stuff White People Do: Warmly Embrace a Racist Novel,” addresses the 50th anniversary celebration of Harper Lee’s only novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, published in the summer of 1960. Macon D. took issue with all the attention TKAM was receiving, and consequently wrote a polemic railing against the (praise of the) novel.
I refuse to go along with this week’s warm, feel-good celebrations of Harper Lee’s novel (published fifty years ago today), To Kill a Mockingbird. Simply put, I think that novel is racist, and so is its undying popularity. It’s also racist in a particularly insidious way, because the story and its characters instead seem to so many white people like the very model of good, heartwarming, white anti-racism.
Macon D. outlines several key issues he has with the novel: its reception, that the mockingbird symbolizes Negroes, Atticus Finch as the O.G. white savior, and the marginal presence of Negroes in the novel. To put bluntly: I take issue with Macon D.’s issues. Maybe this is also stuff black people do, because I embrace this novel, too. Before I continue, however, I want to note that since the initial post takes up the novel, and not the Academy Award-winning film, which premiered in 1962, my response will exclusively center on the text and not the film.